An Entrepreneur’s Journey and Transformational Learning Design with Sucuri’s Dre Armeda

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In this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS we discuss an entrepreneur’s journey and transformational learning design with Sucuri’s Dre Armeda. Dre shares his story of getting into the WordPress space, and he shares his experiences with Jiu-Jitsu and how that has changed the way he has approached his career and life in general.

Dre has been around the WordPress ecosystem for a long time, and he has had quite an evolution in the space. Dre was in the Navy for about 12 years, and he was the ‘resident geek,’ which meant that he managed about 250 computers using Windows NT, and his job was to make sure they were all running, the network was working, etc.

Before deployment in 2000, the chief warrant officer in charge of the IT department told Dre to make an intranet site for this deployment. Dre was given Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe Photoshop 4.5, and two weeks to complete the project. Dre realized that he loved to build websites so he started buying some domains and creating some sites, and in 2004 he created his first WordPress theme.

Working with IT in the military, Dre learned a lot about information security and dealing with security across all of the sites’ subdomains. When Dre got out of the military in 2007 he went to work for an information security company in Chicago. There he met Daniel Cid, who eventually co-founded Sucuri with Dre.

The job market, and especially the entrepreneur job market, is changing to favor those who are self learners and are batteries-included. Dre is a great example of this. He didn’t really have any formal training with building websites or website security. He just went out into the world attending conferences, asking a whole lot of questions, and networking with people who shared a passion for learning WordPress.

Dre and Daniel Cid started an information security awareness and training team for a public energy company. They also started a company that was a host intrusion detection system that could detect when weird virus pop-ups and more would filter into your website, and it would stop that from happening. Then they expanded to remotely monitoring these things in other people’s websites. People who purchased the product also wanted the system to not only detect these issues, but solve to them, and then they turned their minds towards proactive solutions such as firewalls. And that is where the modern Sucuri was created.

Building your online course or membership site with a solution-minded approach makes your product more clearly offer results, and it is what makes your solution ‘hockey stick’ in customers. Sucuri was open to a buy out by GoDaddy, because their principals and culture were in line with Sucuri’s. So now Sucuri is serving 65,000,000 active domains, versus half a million to one million.

Having other hobbies and passions in your life other than your business is important, because it helps you grow as an entrepreneur and thinker if you challenge your mind in other areas of your life. Dre is really into Jiu-Jitsu. It is something that he does with his family, and it helps to sharpen his mind and create these exceptional learning experiences and strategizing techniques that he can carry over into his business.

To learn more about Dre Armeda, check out his Twitter at @DreMeda, and you can also head on over to to learn more about their domain security solutions.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined today by a special guest, Dre Armeda. He’s been around the WordPress ecosystem for a long time. He’s had quite the evolution. This episode is really going to be about, the whole meat of this episode is going to be about learning and teaching, and we’re going to get into Dre’s experience with that around Jiu-Jitsu and learning Jiu-Jitsu, and there’s definitely some big take aways for you education entrepreneurs out there looking to create learning environments. There’s some things we can learn from martial arts. This is going to be really interesting, and a little different from the normal topic of this show.
So, we’re going to get into that. But first, Dre, thanks for coming on the show.
Dre Armeda: Right, Chris, thanks for having me. Super appreciative to be here.
Chris Badgett: So you’re one of the original podcasts I started to listen to, maybe, and I saw you on YouTube. I can even still hear your jingles, like what are you sipping on, and I think you guys had a … I remember earlier in my entrepreneurial journey, you and Brad from the DradCast, had an interview with Jason Cohen of WP Engine. It was just so amazingly helpful for me and, just super helpful. And that was a while ago, and I just kept going and later built a WordPress product business LifterLMS. But you guys, I learned a lot just listening. I also built up an agency, WordPress agency. Got it up to about 17 people. And I learned listening to you guys and some other, and a lot of other things too. But, the DradCast was cool and here we are, many years later together on the show.
So thanks for being here, and, we’ve been around WordPress a long time. Can you give us the chronological history of where you started and where you ended up today. Starting with 2004.
Dre Armeda: Yes. Most certainly. Do you want to start off with WordPress or, because, yes. I think that, it’s an interesting place to be, right.
Chris Badgett: Yes. And before WordPress, like, you were a military guy.
Dre Armeda: I think, it kind of crossed roads at one point. I started … I was in the Navy for about 12 years. I joined in 1995 and by the end of 1995, or the 90’s, I had moved into a Squadron, VFA-147. F-18 Squadron station out of Lemoore, California. We were deployed on the John C. Stennis. But when I got over there, I was the resident geek. So I went over there as their IT. We had about 250 computers using Windows NT, Windows 2000 Mix Mode, and my job was to make sure that those machines were running, the network was working and all that fun stuff.
Before deployment in 2000, we went actually on a WESTPAC and then enforced a no fly zone, all that fun stuff, back in the day. At the end of 99, the chief warrant officer in charge of the IT department, came up to me and said, hey Dre, you are our resident geek. We need an intranet site for this deployment. I’m going to give you two weeks. There’s a front page. Microsoft FrontPage, and Adobe Photoshop 4.5. I’ll see you in two weeks. And then I went, hey warrant officer, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. He said, well you’re going to figure it out. You’re our resident geek. That’s why you’re here.
So two weeks later, I did all these role over, you know, animated buttons in Photoshop and it had all these inline styles and tables and Iframes, and all these ugly terrible code, but we had a website. And, as sure as hell fell in love with it, you know. I really wanted to continue, involved there. So I started buying my first domains and creating some graphics. And that turned into something that was super fun for me, and I was very passionate about. So, kind of a side thing, as I was moving through my technical career in the military, learning information security and dealing with, you know, security across all ten security domains. My side passion was really front-end design and creating these websites.
Well around 2003, end of 2003, middle 2004, in that time frame some time, kind of, it’s a sliding scale. I think it moves for me in my head. It’s hard to, as you get older, to figure out exactly and pin-point times, but I was going, geez, this is my skill. In terms of managing all these graphics and projects I’ve been working. And I got these static HTML files and Iframes to show on my portfolio and [inaudible 00:04:33] all this stuff, I need to find some type of, you know, way to manage this more intuitively and I started looking for a content management system. I went through the gamut … List your name of, uh, CMSs that were around back in 2003 to 2004. You’ll laugh in your head just like I do. But I ended up finding WordPress and dorking around with it. Registered on the forms there. Used what was the early days of the codex to kind of figure out what was going on. And I created my first theme by like middle to end of 2004.
So, I’ve been around since the early days in terms of toying around with it. I got involved in the channel that we had there live. So, I started meeting a bunch of folks there. Asking questions, the whole night. And a little tit bit there, which is super funny for me. Folks in [inaudible 00:05:28] who’s done pretty much the heavy lifting across the .org and codex over the years. My user ID, predates years in the forum. So I’m always, I always throw that at his face. Then I buy him a beer. But that was the early days, and I was still in navy. I was stations in … By the time I found that I was doing the portfolio stuff I was stationed in Naples, Italy. And I was doing side work with WordPress and design stuff. That’s all really, how it kicked off.
When I got out in 07, and I went to work for this information security company in Chicago. And we were working with some other open source platforms. Idea behind the work there was to create a user experience in front of information security tools, that are often cumbersome to use command line for IT staff and [inaudible 00:06:21] that doesn’t have the ability to bring in [inaudible 00:06:23] resources, but wanted to give them a usable tool to manage their network logs and all that fun stuff, just using their IT resources. And that’s where I met Daniel Cid who eventually became my co-founder at Sucuri, which we launched in 2010. But through that whole experience, it was really doubling down with my free time and my passion for the web to learn, and to leverage my online resources to do so. I didn’t have formal, you know, geeky, you know, schooling or design schooling, marketing or any of that stuff. It was really just focusing on the resources that were online. Asking a lot of questions, and getting involved with the community from an early day, which certainly helped us position our services later on, because not only were we learning, but at the same time we were establishing really strong relationships from others that were just as passionate about WordPress and learning it.
And that became a really strong influence in community that we worked with and then in turn ended up securing with our products down the road.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s put a pen in security right there, and I think one of the ways I describe what you’re talking about, you’re kind of, at the tip of the spear of, you know, a life long learner, self learner, kind of batteries included. That’s how, like where the world is transitioning. It seems we’re, you know, if you want to learn something with the internet, I mean you can go out there. You can go out there in person. Go to conferences. All these niches are emerging that can survive now having a small niche because you can global audience. These are really interesting times, and it’s not that new. Like you were already kind of, pursuing your interests in that way, and solving business problems around, you know, putting an interface in front of security for people who didn’t have as much resources and skill, which is amazing.
And, I first heard you on a, your podcast, DradCast. And then later when my website got hacked, one of my websites, oh, I just, I’m going to call Sucuri. So now, because you were content marketing before that word was a thing, I was like, who is [inaudible 00:08:37] mine when my website got hacked. Oh, it’s that guy with the big beard on that podcast. So, and I signed up for Sucuri, this is a while ago, many, many years ago, still have the account, have five websites on it. Cloud, proxy, firewall, the whole deal, and never had a problem since, or if I did, it got cleaned up.
So, that’s interesting. Let’s complete the stroy of Sucuri, what it is, what it became, and then you transitioned to GoDaddy. Can you finish the final chapters of your evolution there in the WordPress eco system.
Dre Armeda: I would say there, we’re just in the middles of the book my friend. [crosstalk 00:09:16] chapters. But it’s an exciting time. It has been an exciting time quite frankly through this entire process and, no it wasn’t a business to start. Well, you know, since we’re back to [inaudible 00:09:29] degree in business management, and, but that was really [inaudible 00:09:33] because I wanted to get it done. But the early days, we had no damn clue what we were doing. We knew that we wanted to solve a problem. We knew that people were having challenges getting attacked and infected online. Their websites were getting screwed up. They were being redirected to porn sites, having ads pop-up. Taking down all together to face all sorts of issues they were dealing with, right.
Chris Badgett: And let me just share a funny story, there. That’s what happened when I first got hacked, and it was called the Badoink redirect virus.
Dre Armeda: Use your own imagination on that one.
Chris Badgett: And it was tricky. It was sneaky. It would actually only redirect to the porn site if the viewer was on a mobile device.
Dre Armeda: [crosstalk 00:10:17] not a mobile. Yes.
Chris Badgett: Or if you’re a WordPress admin, it didn’t show.
Dre Armeda: Yes.
Chris Badgett: So it was kind of sneaky like that. And then I, you know, my people figured it out and then later, you know, because I had an agency too, I was starting to track clients with content marketing. I wrote a blog post about the Badoink redirect virus and I just noticed how much traffic I was getting to that blog post because, I guess lots of people were having problems with it. But I just want to bringing it back, all back to what you’re saying is, you find a problem and if somebody has an urgent need, like when a site goes down, or gets hacked, somebody’s like hot and ready for a solution, right then and right there. So it’s a great business situation to work on.
Dre Armeda: Yes. And it’s a real problem.
Chris Badgett: [crosstalk 00:11:00]
Dre Armeda: And it’s still a recurring issue right. And in those days, this is like 2008, I met Daniel at this other company. The company was acquired, and I moved on, and moved back to California to start work, with some really meaningful work starting an information security awareness and training team. For a large energy company. A public energy company. That was fun work. But in that time, we’re collaborating because what Daniel was doing, and the product that got me involved with at that last company with the UI and all that fun stuff, was he invented a host intrusion detection system that looked at points and networks, and look at data, look at logs, and if there was weird stuff it would filter it, and stop all that stuff from happening, right.
Well, that was kind of in the same theory that he took on about the web. Say, we know that all these problems happening on these websites, how can we remotely monitor for changes or different things when they [inaudible 00:11:54] it can lead to a potential point of compromise, right. How can we look to see if a site’s been blacklisted by Google. How can we look to see if it’s down, or if it’s redirecting, or it’s doing all these bad things. What about outdated software in that environment. They may [inaudible 00:12:09] those things. So, we set out to create this engine, and him and his technical mind, which is a brilliant mind. And I’m figuring out ways that I can kind of look to position this for people. Like how will this value be something that I can talk to people about and have then understand, have them feel comfortable and that it works.
And we sent it out to market, and we were beta in 2009. 2010, we created the LLC, and said, look, let’s see what happens. Well, it hockey sticked man. Everybody’s like yes. We need this service. But this service isn’t very actionable, Dre, Daniel, Sucuri. How can you fix the problem for me? We want not only for you to notify that there’s a potential point of compromise or an infection blacklist status. We want you to come and fix that for us. Remediate it.
Chris Badgett: I just want to put down a point here. For the educational entrepreneurs out there listening, building your course, you’re teaching something, you’re creating and entrepreneurial offer, a promise. A solution is what hokey sticks. A suggestion, you may get a little growth and they go flat and they fail. But what you’re talking about is a transition point from suggestion and information, to solution.
Dre Armeda: [crosstalk 00:13:23] point number one for us from a business perspective. Like, from being a lifestyle thing, a hobby, if you will. Something that can be manageable and sustainable with the opportunity for large growth, right. There’s a problem, and now we can solve, not just identifying it but actually remediating it. So, we said look, this can’t be that difficult. We’ll clean it up for you. We know the strings that we’re looking for. We know what the code looks like and stuff. Well lets’ start building a process around that. And at the time, I don’t think we knew what were building or process, we were like shit. Send us your FTP information and we’ll go in and take a look and we’ll find it and clear it.
But we got better at that, and we started to catalog all of that stuff and then we found a means to say, alright if we saw it on one, and we see it on another, now that’s a repeatable process. We can automate, right. So let’s go an automate. And that’s exactly what we did. So over time, the problem didn’t go away, in fact it grew. We had various organizations and hosting environments that at the time, were seeing cross contamination across different user accounts and then [inaudible 00:14:26] formed, and the exploit of being able to execute PHP arbitrarily in directories and stuff across servers that should be across servers that shouldn’t be happening, was happening. Well, they needed a means to clean this up and there just wasn’t a viable solution out there except for the processes that we started to build.
Awesome, so we went through that and we saw a sustained growth. We started hiring. By 2012, I went full-time in 2011. Daniel and Tony at that time, so … A cool story about that, so Tony and I were actually starting an agency back in 2009, 2010. I started Sucuri at the same time with Daniel. We saw that this was hokey sticking. We were doing some really cools things in the WordPress agency, it just wasn’t hokey sticking as great. So, we saw at Sucuri that, Dan we need some help operationally. So we brought Tony on to help us, you know, with operations and kind of, think through the finances and make sure that all our processes there were correct. And that turned into a full-time thing. Him, me and Daniel were really the original three co-founders at that point driving this thing.
So by 2011, Tony and I are spearheading the first tour camp in San Diego and the week before that we said, we’re [inaudible 00:15:33] this is more than just a hobby. We can help a lot of people here. I went full-time and by the end of the year, the three of us were full-time and we started to hire employees. So, yes. It was a crazy experience, but we found that by 2012, the problem was going to shift fundamentally. We knew that at some point, you know, hosting providers and different services providers will get wise to these security things and the issues that we [inaudible 00:16:02]. One, passwords and credential management sucks. So, we’re going to get better at that at some point. And there’s still challenges there, but it has improved. Two, access control. Let’s make sure that we are protecting the access to our assets and only giving access to those that really need access for the time they need. Least privilege and all those theories. They really are meaningful.
But three and probably just important is, making sure that all your environmental things are up to date, right. Like, vulnerabilities are bugs, and bugs happen. That’s why we fix bugs. So when you see a patch come out for a bug, and that’s why you should patch it, right. So, it’s just a functionality problem, but it’s certainly a maintenance and security issue too. But people are never really good at that. It’s on the patch, they don’t patch for various reasons. So, that is something that’s improved over time. You look at [inaudible 00:16:51] releases now have automatic updates. Not just in WordPress but you see it in Chrome, and in the browsers, and all over the place.
We said, well wait a second. This is actionable now, we’re cleaning websites up and it’s very reactive. How do we become more proactive. We started to think about how we can create a protective layer, and that’s the augment of cloud proxy, which is the original code name, which is now the security firewall, right. And we built a kind of a web application firewall to build their needs. That was business pivot number two, and it proved to be a very important decision because as we did see a decrease, a certain decrease in the amount of remediation needed, we saw a huge uptake in the amount of folks that started to think about being more proactive versus reactive with their websites. And that really irons out, I think our set of services foundationally today. We want to monitor things to make sure that we’re keeping the tabs on stuff. If something goes [inaudible 00:17:51], we need to remediate, so we’re going to build process to clean that up.
But, foremost, importantly, you need to make sure you’re protecting that. So let’s put the firewall around this to reduce total overall risk and increase the security password, to each individual website, right. We’ve built services ina features into that, like, a CDS. We know that performance is just as important, it might be more important to some folks than security. But they go hand in hand with protection, right. So you have these performance companies that say that’s all they care about they don’t offer security services so, when the site goes down because of a DDoS attack, their site’s completely down, so how much performance do you have with it? Zero. For me, it goes kind of hand in hand, right. So, we’ve started to build things like over the years, which now we wound out our full website security platform and we could see, I think is heavier and tighter integration with SSL. So now, not just the monitoring and the remediation but also the discussion. So, all the communications from point A to point B, we’re going to encrypt with SSL, right.
The firewall piece with performance, and then lastly disaster recovery, because stuff does go down and explode and all tat fun stuff. We need to be able to pull from backups, right. That for me is kind of where we’re heading. And it’s been a learning curve right. Like learning what people really need.
Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful. So why was the piece where you went from security to security at GoDaddy?
Dre Armeda: Well, in my journey, I wanted to … so I was a founding CEO, and at one point in 2014, I stepped down. Tony, who was one of my other co-founders, as mentioned earlier, took over the helm and continued to scale. I went out into the agency space for a while to kind of get some good [inaudible 00:19:36] there and some experience around working with enterprise customers and clients, which at the time, I didn’t realize was going to be so impactful in returning the security summer of last year, because we started to position into a place where we knew our consumer business was very consistent and there was a continued growth pattern there. Certainly not the hokey stick of early days, but, you know, as you reach critical mass, things change a little bit right.
Now it’s understanding how to channelize your business. How to reach new audiences, and we found that the agency space was a super interesting place for us to be, right. Because they have a lot of customers that have these same problems, right. And we can come in and talk to them and help them figure out a solution for their customers. So, we started to channelize in the sense of building partners in the agency space. And I knew how to have that discussion now, right. Like it was different because now I had direct experience in a large scale with a large audience, so enterprise only down to mom-and-pop shops. So we started to formalize that and then at the end of the last year, we started to think about what are some higher volumes opportunities. So some higher volume opportunities are hosting providers, right.
There’d been hundreds of thousands, if not millions of customers with websites that have the same problem. That, they know have the same problem because those customers are coming directly to them and telling them that they have that problem today, right. So, we started to build formal channels around approaching hosting providers and partnering with them. And then, that really, at the end of last year, it’s around the time we started to started talking to GoDaddy. And at the beginning of April this year, we closed on the acquisition. So, it became very clear that GoDaddy although has had some, maybe hiccups and bumps on the road from brand perspective, service perspective and the perception of those things, over the last five or six years.
It became very apparent that a lot of the things are just perception today. We had the same GoDaddy at five years ago. In fact, a brilliant organization when we start to really understand the drive and the passion to help our customers and to help those customers businesses be successful, long-term. It’s something that it’s important to them as an organization. I guess it’s important to us being part of that today, and then they value. And now as part of the decision making right. So when we started to see, wow, they really value this, these are the things that we value. And these are the things that we’ve built our business on. Organic growth in education, right. So helping people through our blogging and outreach, and making sure that the service always comes first. People are at their most vulnerable position when they’re talking to Sucuri, right.
They’re about to lose their business, or their client base, or their visitors, the revenue, whatever the case, right-
Chris Badgett: A lot of stress
Dre Armeda: A lot of stress
Chris Badgett: Yes.
Dre Armeda: And we’re helping them through that, right. We’ve had the worst discussions because they’re so pissed off. Sometimes they don’t channel energy in the right way, for, you know, trying to put that as nicely as possible. We’ve dealt with that and at the forefront of that, is always in making sure we get them across the finish line in a way that restores their potential to grow online, right. That business or whatever it is on the website.
That culture that we’ve built is very much in line with GoDaddy’s. And when we saw that opportunity to go out, we really measured it from that perspective and now this gives us the ability to scale from let’s say, a half million, to million, you know, websites in our firewall environment to being able to reach directly 65,000,000 active domains. That’s a very meaningful discussion. When I got out of the military, one of the things that I said was, my wife and I made the conscious decision because we had all the tools in place. We had maybe, the benefits and stuff, where we wanted to be in the military, but our main goal was to make an impact on this society at a larger scale. A positive impact. And when we started to kind of carry that through that whole journey and into the point now where we’re having these discussions, you know I think Tony were certainly the big drivers in making this whole happen, but I think they carry that same vision that impacts, positive impacts that we can make to the internet at large with this type of transition is beyond speakable. It’s brilliant.
So, in April, we closed, right. We became part of the GoDaddy family and part of the GoDaddy security business unit.
Chris Badgett: That’s fantastic. That’s quite the story and I appreciate what you’re saying, like we’re in the middle of that book, and I can’t wait to where that story continues and where you guys evolve and that vision is amazing. Well, let’s take step back from your journey to here, and look a little bit at something else, which I really relate to you with, which is, I’m a technology guy, but I also go out in the woods and I do stuff with my body and it’s one of the ways I stay in balance, because it’s really easy with technology and business to just burn out and get all consumed. It’s really important in my opinion to have other hobbies, passions, outlets for stress relief, or you know, to put your mind out, not just always grinding on business and growth, just do other things, and I know for you a big part of that is Jiu-Jitsu. And one of our [inaudible 00:25:05] one our, you know, ninja hacks about product development and road mapping is simply that, we like to look at learning and how exceptional learning experiences happen in the offline world, and then try to translate that into technology and provide tools for teachers to deliver the same kinds of results.
So, I like looking at, you know, elite training environments or key learning experiences or learning journeys that happen that are like fun. It’s not, there’s no need to add chymification or other things. It just works on its own, and it creates its own momentum. And from talking to you and hearing about your story with Jiu-Jitsu, it seems like that is true for Jiu-Jitsu, with you. How did you get into Jiu-Jitsu and for those of you listening as we get into Dre’s experience as a learner of Jiu-Jitsu and as a student, think about your students. Think about what, you know, you want to have them experience in possibly a similar way. So how did you get into it?
Dre Armeda: That’s an interesting story. So, Tony and Daniel are both Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. But there was a little more influence, outside influence from them the than that. Certainly they both, pestered me. So Tony started like 20, I want to say 2010. Actually they both started about the same time there. Just before we really, really kicked off for us with Sucuri. Tony got injured. So, like the first year and half year after he started, he was, he even competed and stuff. But he got hurt. Daniel was, we were geographically separated so it a lot of maybe Skype and chatted about me getting on the mat Dre, and I said look, this is a spectator sport. Now it’s kind of being a theme for a couple few years.
And around 2013, it was, yes. Beginning of 2013, Tony had to hit me up, and he was like, hey, they actually opened a Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school here in [inaudible 00:27:12] where we live. And he said you should go to check it out. I’m like, dude, it’s still a spectator sport for me, and at this point, [inaudible 00:27:21] for the sake of transparency, I was a heavy smoker through 2012, I quit smoking. I was very complacent. And, the show would just have hammered away on keys there right. And I reached close to 270 pounds. Two hundred and sixty-something pounds, or something like that. I was big and large. I was big Dre for sure.
Well, around that time, he’s telling about this school opening, and I said look, it’s a spectator sport for me, and I don’t know if there was some back channel discussion but my oldest daughter [inaudible 00:27:51], come to me at one point during that same time frame and said look dad, I want to try some MMA. And we’re fans of MMA, we watch MMA. She seemed, kind of, sort of the, female martial artist, it was starting to come up in the game, and she was fond of it. So kind of started thinking about what the best reaction here is. I said look, if that’s what you want to do, I totally get it. We’ll respect it. We’ll follow it, and we’ll back you up on it. But I think the intelligent way to maybe approach this, is to learn your ground game first.
And, knowing that Jiu-Jitsu just opened a school and her uncle was there, because Tony and I are related, I said, geez, this will probably be the best way. Let’s go check out the school and see what you think and then from there on, we’ll make some decisions. She said that’s reasonable, let’s go check it out. So we went over there, Tony’s on the mat. School’s going, very small [inaudible 00:28:47] at a times. Probably six, seven students. I don’t know, something like that. And by the end of the class, I’m going, alright. This is pretty interesting but, I don’t think that she’s going to do it. And she goes, dad, and gave me the look. And she goes, this is awesome. And it needs to happen but the only way it’s happening dad is if you join me on the mat.
I go, oh, shit. Alright. So, she goes … the school gives like a week free. So, we committed, we do the week free. And by the end of it, I told the professor, professor Orlando, we need to sign up. Like this is just awesome. Although I felt like I was dying while I was out there, couldn’t move, I could just, you know, like a turtle on its back, it’s so big, and it’s still super intriguing and I think that the thing that caught me most by surprise was the mind body connection that you have. Because certainly physically, I was so broken down. I mean, I just couldn’t perform the things but I could see the action and reaction and the sequences to position yourself in a superior way so that you can one, attack or two, defend against attacks.
And it just grabbed me. So we went on to start training. This is start, beginning 2013. Well, my daughter ended up doing it for a year, and unfortunately she broke her [inaudible 00:30:10]. She was very active, and that kind of pushed her off, of not being able to do it. But in the time frame she did, I have a large family. Five daughters, and they’re amazing. And they’re watching their oldest sister, it was like, you know, as a sequence of like from oldest to youngest, except for the baby at the time. So they wanted to do it, so they all ended up doing it for a year. I said look, if you’re going to sign up, you’re not just going to sign up and just, you know, do this for a week and then be done. You’re going to commit to a year, and then you’re going to make a decision whether you want to continue or not, but they all did it for a year, and they all competed well.
So now, they’ve gotten kind of both sides, the game side of it, and the self defense side of it, which I think is super important. And they can [inaudible 00:30:54] and defend themselves if they get themselves into a bad situation but ultimately, it’s progressing through that, I think mind and body connection. It’s a way to manifest your thoughts and strategy in physical manifestation. It’s a wild, it’s just a wild thing man.
Chris Badgett: What else keeps you coming back? Like it sounds like if you miss it, you’ll miss it. If you like go somewhere and can’t go, right.
Dre Armeda: I think my wife will tell you, that there comes a point where throughout the week if I’m missing training, she’s kind of urging me you need to go get on the mat. When I’m traveling, it’s painful when I’m off the mat for an extended period of time, it’s depressing. And I think it’s infinite way to solve problems that I think is impactful to me. My goal on the mat is to do one of two things. Is to manipulate the joints to an extent that you will tap out or give up, or to choke you out. To put you to sleep in some way, right. And that’s using the tools that are in front of me. So that’s my hands and my feet. My legs, my arms. My uniform in the [inaudible 00:31:59]. So it’s very restricted in the tool set. You use what you have. And you need to get to that end goal. And there’s infinite ways to do that.
And the challenge that’s presenting itself with let’s say someone that’s new on the mat versus someone that’s been there forever, is very different. So those challenges change. It is infinite in the scenarios towards that outcome. And it’s continual learning. They say that when you reach black belt, which on average, because it’s so subjective, is about ten years to reach black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. And they say that’s when you’re actual journey begins, right. So, I could be 70 years old and still not get it completely man. Like that is just awesome. But there’s a lot of reward through that in the way that you’re able to sequence these moves with the tools you have in place in to reaching your successes. So, to me that is such an addictive thing, you know, and in trying to reach success in something that is infinite.
Chris Badgett: What is the reward? Like how do you experience a reward? Is it a feeling, is it pride in like the new belt level, or whatever. Like how would you describe it? Is it like stress relief, I mean, what is it?
Dre Armeda: There is no win, there is no loss. There’s winning and, but there is no loss in Jiu-Jitsu. There’s always learning, right. Like in that’s I think the ultimate reward, is that, there’s always a means to get better. Sow hen you try things, you go and lets say, I’m successful I won a tournament the whole [inaudible 00:33:31]. I was able to employ my technique that I’d been working so hard at. That I’ve trained. My partners have worked so hard to help me, you know. I’ve been ale to employ that in a way that got me to my ultimate success in that competition. But again, it’s limitless and infinite. I think it’s worth still rewarding. It is a mental state. It is a feeling for sure. I don’t chase medals, and belts are irrelevant. They only cover two inches of your ass man. That’s it, right.
The rest is the amount of energy and time, and effort that you put into curving these skills that, to continually chase what success means for you on the mat. I think that in and of itself is so rewarding is so rewarding just I just, it’s to put words on it. And what’s needed, is it kind of curves a way that you think about things and strategize about stuff, right. And it is, absolutely bleed over the way that I solve business problems. Or the way that I act or react with my wife and kids. And scenarios that come up there come up there. It bleeds over in that, the way that you eat and think about your health. I mean, it’s so overwhelmingly powerful that I think it’s hard to answer about, answer what is it that kind of tickles me about it, man. There’s so much.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Refer the online course creator or designer, because there’s a lot of great things. So let me just kind of say back to you what I heard as some really key insights. And we can wrap on that a little bit. The first thing when you got into it, like from the student perspective is there was a free week. The second thing that was in there was learning in groups. In your case, a particularly powerful group being the family unit.
Dre Armeda: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Chris Badgett: There was prizes involved including the mind-body connection is a prize. Basically unlocking this new power or, you know, super power if you will to. There’s nothing more fun than like discovering a capability that you may not have realized you had before. The other that you said that was interesting was like if you’re going to do it, you had to commit to a year. This isn’t a book you’re going to pull off the shelf, read one chapter. It was a commitment for at least year. The other thing that was involved was competing, which means you’re not just getting idea, you’re taking training and translating that to reality and testing your skills not just ideas.
The other thing that you got out of it was something that literary could help you in the most critical human need, which is survival. If you were to encounter a threat, it can, you know, something that can help you literary stay alive. The other thing is, it helps you with your mental clarity and just sense of well being, which because it gets depressing, the people you love and care about say hey, maybe you should go back there. So it literary turned you into a better person. There’s a puzzle that you get infinite joy out of. That you’re constantly trying to solve, which is fun and addicting. There’s different levels that you can move through. And, even after ten years, you’re still just a beginner, which means it’s a life long learning journey that is crazy long and just has so many layers, literary if you want to commit.
And then the reward is addictive. You’re chasing a feeling, and it’s transferable to other benefits in your life, not just actually on the mat and chocking people out in self defense. You can transfer, I’m sure, those skills from the mind body connections, some of those things transfer into business context, relationships, other things. So there was just so much in what you said, that created a, just a powerful learning opportunity and also really a lifestyle.
Dre Armeda: Good. If I had a microphone in my hand I would drop it for you. That brilliantly articulated. Thank you. [inaudible 00:37:51] for, I appreciate that.
Chris Badgett: Alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. You did the hard work, I just kind of, I did some, I just listened and picked out a few [inaudible 00:38:00] there, so. For those of you listening out there, that is the goal. The goal is not to create an information product, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with just creating product. But the best things out there, if you want to look at Jiu-Jitsu and look at the Gracie family and how all that happened, I encourage you to do some research.
Create a movement. Create a lifestyle. Transform people’s lives like Dre and his family. That’s where the best, you know, viral hokey Stick, we’ve been talking about hokey stick growth. That’s where it comes from. Is creating transformation, not just information.
Dre, I want to thank you for coming on the show, and sharing your WordPress journey with us. I can’t wait to see the next chapters. And where you go from here. Appreciate all the wisdom. I got so much out of listening to you talk about your journey with Sucuri and then WordPress in general. And yes, I just really want to thank you for everything that you’ve shared about your experiences with Jiu-Jitsu and, I think there’s so much we can learn from your story, and I’m going to encourage you, if you’re listening to this podcast or watching on YouTube, to re-watch it. Listen to Dre tell his story of what his experience was like as a student. Listen to what I was saying about the key take aways there, and as you become an instructional designer or a creator of some kind of transformation, there’s just a lot gems in here, so.
Dre thanks for coming on the show. People can connect with you on Twitter, @dremeda right?
Dre Armeda: Dremeda. D-R-E-M-E-D-A.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Cool. Well, is there anywhere else on the internet, if people want to find you or things they should check out, that you’ll like to point them towards?
Dre Armeda: Yes. I would say, it’s a wonderful service. I don’t want to get into the shameless [inaudible 00:40:04] but certainly check it out and if you’re online, it might be of interest to you. Well, it’s [inaudible 00:40:10] on Twitter, is the right place to go.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well thank you Dre for coming on the show and we’ll have to do it again some time as you’re in another crazy chapter and we’ll see what the next evolution looks like and hope you have a great rest of your day.
Dre Armeda: The book only gets better. I appreciate your time. I’m honored to be here. Thank you.

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